The Continental: Le Vice Anglais

Camptown Ladies

Sing this song

Do-dah Do-dah!

Camptown Races

Five Miles Long

Oh Do-dah day!

Anything by Foster is an unpleasant sound.

Even more so when you wake to it.

Even more so when you wake to it with a splitting headache.

My vision was blurry, but my ears were working all too well. As I heard the drunken voices belting out the song accompanied by pipe organ I could tell that the singers were close by, but at least one layer of timber muffled them to my extreme delight. As predicted, all of the revelers put their money on the bob-tailed nag, and I found myself wondering, as always, what kind of odds were being offered on the bay.

I was lying prostrate on a stone floor with my arms bound at wrist and elbow behind my back causing an uncomfortable strain on my shoulders. My ankles were similarly bound together and my legs bent at the knee so that my ankles and wrist met each other in what felt to my fingers to be a lovers’ knot. I assumed that I would have been relieved of my revolver and rapier, naturally. But the cold stone on my skin told me I had also been relieved of vest, shirt and trousers. This was a surprise to say the least about it.

The air was humid- warm and moist. The type of environment that absorbs smells and mellows them as they meld into their surroundings. The first scent that I recognized was leather followed by iron and oil. After that was the effeminate musk that suggested estrus and escapades accompanied by its masculine counterpart. I had heard of rooms like this, and an unindulged part of me had always wanted to visit one. Though I admit that I had conflicting feelings about regaining consciousness inside one.

As my vision grew steadily more clear I realized that I was behind a row of iron bars with a door of the same style set into them; much like a prison cell. I turned my head around to survey what I could of my surroundings to find that I was in a recess of stone that had been chiseled out of the Earth, and no doubt in some part of the sprawling city under the city that had long since surrendered its share of silver.

I was beginning to weigh my options when I heard his voice. “Awake at last, Mon Amour.” His tone was husky and almost sensuous as everything in that lilied tongue sounds. The way he spoke was as he always had with hints of hatred and unspoken threats. It was the man I had been seeking, and the familiarity of the words should have given me some comfort. But given my current situation the affect that they had was to produce a gleam of nervous sweat on the entirety of my nearly nude body.

“I’m so glad I found you, Darling.”

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Silas, part II

Two weeks had passed since Pike had given me the ominous warning. Yet still, the words played in a constant loop in my thoughts. Haunting every wakened, and many unawakened, moments of my existence.

Get a handle on this shit or someone else will!

Eddie’s autopsy said his death was the result of a bear attack, which was a believable explanation if you ignored crucial facts. But with Eddie having no family in the area there would be nobody would ask those difficult questions. At least, not anytime soon.

Get a handle on this shit– Pike had said. Easy for him to say, not being the one on the front lines having to handle shit. The office had made that one soft- he was out of touch with what it takes to operate a territory these days. Did that arrogant little prick think I didn’t understand how serious this was? No less serious than last time. But last time there wasn’t an archive and recorder in everyone’s pocket. Things were so much easier to keep quiet when all you needed was an ‘accidental’ fire in the local library or County Clerks’ Office. I knew that things were about to go from bad to worse. Because my problem may go decades without killing- but once it tasted blood, one killing was never enough.

So it came as absolutely no surprise when news of the second death, a poacher- hunting out of season and on the Appalachian Trail- turned up dead. The crime lab confirmed it was the same beast that killed Eddie. At least the bear narrative would be an easy sell this time.

But time was running out for me, and the powers that be couldn’t let this keep happening. It was only a matter of time before someone started Googling things and connecting dots. Their theory would probably have no resemblance to the truth, but that was of little consolation. Their version of the facts would most assuredly have something to do with reptilian space aliens with phase technology. And while the absurdity of the thought made me smile, stories like that would only make things worse.

Get a handle on this shit or someone else will- I told myself. The phone on my desk rang. I picked up the receiver without bothering to look at the caller ID. Few have this number, fewer still use it.

“Well?” The voice on the line said.

“I told you I would tell you once he was dead.”

“Tick tock, Whittle, tick tock”, Pike said in a tone that implied he wasn’t as upset about my predicament as he should have been.

“I’m working on it,” I said in an angry, past the point of being able to put up with his bullshit, tone. “Guys like this don’t exactly advertise who they are. And I still have to pretend their is normal law here, so I just can’t start executing people on suspicion. Now can I?”

“Two deaths on your turf- two strikes. Three strikes and you’re out, Whittle.”

“Are you really going to apply an arbitrary rule and its accompanying sports analogy to this? This is serious.”

“You’re telling me this is serious, Whittle! Get your head out of your ass and do your fucking job!” The call was disconnected with the sound of a loud slamming noise. I let out a frustrated growl as I returned to my notes.